INSPIRATIONAL Sheffield golden oldie Naomi Crowder is set to call time on her incredible sporting career – at the age of 76.
Naomi was first introduced to the New Zealand Masters Games by her daughter Rachel, who moved Down Under in 2005.
And she has now been back eight times to compete in the Wanganui and Dunedin Masters, a sporting event open to anyone aged over 35.
But her latest trip could well be the last.
Just days after flying home, her suitcase full of medals, Naomi is contemplating whether to call it a day – partly to make time for different adventures.
Naomi, of Westminster Close, Fulwood, who competed in the 75 to 79 age group, said: “I’ve got a bucket list as long as both arms and I love travelling.
“In April I’m off to Africa to work on a conservation scheme for the protection of elephants and rhinos.
“Last year I went to the Arctic and next year I’m off to the Antarctic.
“I also plan to visit Yellowstone Park, spend time in the Amazon, see the volcanoes in Hawaii, and visit Russia.”
It’s that spirit of adventure which earned Naomi eight gold medals, seven of them for swimming, and one silver in doubles tennis, as well as the Athletes Achievers’ Award.
“It was a nice surprise,” she said. “I was almost speechless when they called my name.”
It wasn’t the only surprise for an incredible lady who still competes for City of Sheffield Swimming Club, with whom she trains three times a week, and regularly plays tennis and racket ball.
The other came when her daughter Rachel, who now lives Perth, Australia, turned up in Wanganui to watch.
“It was so nice to see her,” said Naomi. “She’s quite a one for surprises! In December she surprised us all by announcing she had become engaged to former Sheffield Wednesday captain Mick Lyons.”
Naomi and Rachel even competed together, in the two kilometre open water swim, and finished side by side.
Naomi, who worked front of house at Sheffield Theatres before she retired, added: “Rachel’s injured shoulder meant she only used one arm – and we still managed to do the swim in under an hour.”
New Zealand Masters
* The Games started in 1989.
* 1,500 entrants competed in 29 sports.
* The Games now has 55 sports.
* Events range from aerobics and athletics to poker wood chopping.
* Naomi’s gold medal haul was for ladies doubles tennis, and swimming - 400m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 25m freestyle, 25m backstroke, 25m breaststroke, and the 2k open water swim.